PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Colorado Avalanche secured a playoff spot with the help of two goals from Nathan MacKinnon in Tuesday night’s 6-4 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
It’s the fifth straight playoff finish for the Avs, who are also the first NHL team with 50 wins and nine wins in 11 games this season.
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MacKinnon had his 23rd and 24th of the season, while JT Compher had his 14th of the year. Darren Helm, Josh Manson and Artturi Lehkonen also scored. Darcy Kuemper won his 33rd game and saved 41 shots.
Bryan Rust, Evan Rodrigues, Jake Guentzel and Mike Matheson all scored for the Penguins but they lost to Colorado for the second time in as many games. The Avalanche beat Pittsburgh 3-2 in Denver on Saturday. Tristan Jarry made 26 saves for Pittsburgh, who have lost five of their last seven games.
Pittsburgh and Colorado traded goals in the first 5:30 of the game. MacKinnon’s centering pass hit Rust’s bat and went past Jarry. Mikko Rantanen continued a six-game scoring streak with an assist in his 400th NHL game (he has 400 career points).
Rust responded for Pittsburgh and set a new career high in points when he converted a rebound behind Kuemper to level the game.
Colorado opened a 3-1 lead with two goals in the second period, scored 2:07 apart. Compher hit a rebound in the slot and MacKinnon scored his second with a harmless-looking wrist shot from the left point.
Rodrigues scored his first goal in 11 games at 5:43 p.m. in the second as Pittsburgh trailed 3-2 in the third game.
Colorado finally regained its multigoal lead, just 1:01 in the third when Manson’s point shot defeated Jarry. Manson’s goal was the 57th by a Colorado defenseman, the most goal by an NHL player since the Chicago Blackhawks scored 59 goals in 2007-2008.
BEST IN THE LEAGUE
Colorado leads the league with 106 points and recorded its third 50-win season in franchise history.
The Avalanche have the highest league total in the third half with 102 goals and are 38-0-3 in games in which they score four or more goals.
Last month, the Avalanche became the fourth NHL team in the past 25 years to reach 100 points in 67 games or fewer, the fastest mark in franchise history.
Colorado’s road record of 22-10-3 is the best in the Western Conference.
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Sidney Crosby remains three points behind 1,400 for his career and is behind Jari Kurri for the 22nd most points in NHL history. He wants to be the 7th fastest player to reach 1,400 career points.
Guentzel scored his 154th career goal, passing Joe Mullen for the second-most goals for an American-born player in team history, behind only Kevin Stevens.
Jeff Carter assisted Guentzel’s goal to become the 20th active player with 800 NHL points. Evgeni Malkin, who also assisted, is just an assist who isn’t the 57th player in NHL history to have 700 assists.
FRIENDS AND ENEMIES
MacKinnon defeated good friend and offseason training partner Sidney Crosby and his penguins.
Both hail from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia and were drafted #1 overall, Crosby in 2005 and MacKinnon in 2013.
LACK OF FIREPOWER
Already without captain Gabriel Landeskog (knee surgery) and top scorer Nazem Kadri (upper body), the Avs were forward Valeri Nichushkin on Tuesday. Nichushkin, who is out with a non-COVID-related illness, has 19 goals and 40 points in 51 games.
Avalanche: Continue a three-game journey Friday in Winnipeg.
Penguins: Travel to the New York Rangers on Thursday.
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https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2022/04/05/colorado-avalanche-beat-pittsburgh-penguins-6-4-clinch-playoff-spot/ Colorado Avalanche beats Pittsburgh Penguins 6-4 to secure playoff spot – CBS Pittsburgh